By Jacquelyn Heidegger, Coordinator Senior, Julia Tebben, Program Coordinator Senior, Career and Professional Development Services, ASU
At first glance, teaching abroad can seem like the adventure of a lifetime – and it can be! Teaching in another country is a way to immerse yourself in a new culture, build professional experience and have a positive impact on the students you work with. It can also be incredibly challenging, especially if you’re not prepared.
Teaching abroad affords many benefits, including the opportunity to…
…expand your worldview and build your Global and Intercultural Fluency career competency: Connect with new people and take part in meaningful cultural exchange.
…develop additional career competencies and transferable skills: Teaching abroad can be a great way to gain international work experience and strengthen career competencies, including oral and written communication, problem-solving and critical thinking, and leadership. Even if you are not planning on teaching long-term, these are transferable skills employers across all industries and job functions are seeking.
…learn or strengthen a second language: Practice makes perfect! This is much more feasible when using a language on a daily basis with native speakers.
…travel: See the world and earn a livable wage? Yes, please! While you certainly will have work to do, you will also be in a new and unfamiliar region. Take advantage!
…receive a regular salary and benefits: Many teaching positions in other countries offer a standard teacher’s salary along with other benefits such as health insurance, flight allowance and accommodations.
Living and working in another country can also provide its own set of unique challenges, such as…
...culture shock: Taking a holiday and actually living in another country are two very different experiences. Culture shock – feelings of loneliness, frustration or confusion that result from exposure to a new culture or way of life – can occur to anyone just about anywhere. Learning to manage culture shock can be one of the most rewarding parts of any international experience, but it can be a more ongoing process when choosing to live in a foreign country long-term.
…language barriers: A language barrier is one of the most common culprits of culture shock. It is not uncommon for guest teachers to work in environments where very few people speak their home language, and this can make even menial tasks more taxing. Coping with these challenges requires patience, a commitment to language-learning, and resourcefulness when it comes to other forms of communication, such as nonverbal communication.
…unfamiliar social norms: No culture is better than any other; they are only different. Adjusting to differences and a new way of life can be challenging though. If you are interested in teaching abroad, you will almost certainly encounter new classroom management and teaching practices as well as different ways of operating in the workplace.
Of course, overcoming these challenges is perhaps the most rewarding benefit to teaching in another country. If you are interested in learning more about being an educator abroad, check out our guide to help you navigate the many opportunities available to decide if any of them are right for you.